The bold beginnings of this new release from Palace seem set to give a new lease of life to the indie-rock scene. Potential for the trio to do so is certainly there, despite the somewhat mixed reception of debut ‘So Long Forever’. In comparison, this album feels more coherent, though at points tracks blur together into all too familiar patterns. Whilst the outset and the ending of the album feel fully-fledged out, the middle leaves too much time spent waiting for a wonder. That’s not to say, however, that ‘Life After’ is without its moments of colour.
The opening track, bearing the album’s title, bursts into rich instrumentals, with steady, weighty drums pulling together what is a captivating beginning. ‘Berlin’ follows in strength; in both tracks, Palace find just the right balance between themes of grief and a sort of rising hope translated into melodic beautifully.
By the time we reach the fourth and fifth tracks, however, the mood begins feels a little lacklustre. ‘Face in the Crowd’ does achieve the sense of melancholic mourning that seems intended, but it falls slightly flat amongst the rest of the album. Even ‘Martyr’, a dark and intriguing track previously released as single, gets lost in the centre of things.
It’s with relief that ‘Running Wild’ begins to pick up a little of the pace again nearing the end of the album, whilst its follower ‘Bones’ does well in its build-up of the story; the backing strings and wallowing vocals achieving a chilling atmosphere that fuels the otherworldly feel of the entire album.
A little too much of Palace’s new release feels less ‘Life After’ and more like a state of limbo. Maybe the only thing holding it back is their habit of getting too comfortable in their established sound. There’s no doubting the presence of great talent, however. The ethereal quality achieved throughout- finished with the sorrowful yet burgeoning ‘Heaven up there’- gives Palace some edge against their musical competition. If they continue as they are, the gifted trio aren’t set to lose their rising place in the alternative music scene anytime soon. I for one am more than excited to see them tour the album come autumn.